Chipperfield and Rogers protest against "destruction" of London design school

Architects and designers including David Chipperfield, Richard Rogers, Jasper Morrison and Tom Dixon have joined a campaign against plans to move The Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design and cut 19 of its courses.

In an open letter published in The Observer newspaper, architects, designers and leading figures from the arts world warned that relocating the school would "destroy" it.

"Threats to move The Cass, dubbed the Aldgate Bauhaus, out of Aldgate would destroy its rich ecology and diminish the diversity and opportunities of its East End location," said the letter.

"Its future is endangered by a homogenised vision of academic education, part of a short-sighted national trend in the new universities."

The letter, titled Don't Destroy The Sir John Cass Faculty, was signed by architects David Chipperfield, Richard Rogers, Eric Parry, and Caruso St John co-founder Peter St John, as well as designers Tom Dixon, Jasper Morrison, and Kenneth Grange.

Tate galleries director Nicholas Serota, artists Anish Kapoor and Jeremy Deller, London Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic, and Second Home founder and entrepreneur Rohan Silva also signed.

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The Cass' current Central House building would be sold for an estimated £50 million

The Cass is currently part of London Metropolitan University, which has been struggling financially.

Under the university's One Campus, One Community plan, the school would be relocated from Aldgate to London Met's campus in Holloway, north London, along with law and business schools currently housed in Moorgate.

The Cass' Central House building on the edge of the City of London would be sold for an estimated £50 million.

"The plan is to deconstruct the schools of art, architecture and design, uproot 2,300 students and close courses that don't conform to the new vision," said the letter. "The prestigious silversmithing and jewellery and the country's last musical instrument-making courses were among those announced for closure last week."

"The issue is not just about changing address and revisiting the menu, it is about a failure to respect the integrity of hands-on creative education or understand the real skills involved that make it attractive to students and their employers and enable it to thrive," it added. "Homogenisation is not the way forward."

The university said that the closures of courses at The Cass, which include seven undergraduate and 12 postgraduate degree programmes, were a separate issue from the relocation. The cuts coincide with an overall reduction of student intake at the university from 12,000 to 10,000.

More than 2,600 people have already signed a petition against the university's plans.

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The interior of The Cass' Central House building, which was redesigned by Florian Beigel and ARU in 2012

"Undoubtedly architecture schools and universities in general need money," said architect Chris Romer-Lee, who is backing the Save The Cass campaign launched by students and supporters.

"At The Cass, quality of workshop spaces and the crossover between art and architecture education has created a unique facility that should be nurtured and not driven out for luxury housing, which, whatever way you dress it up, is the reason for selling the site," he told Dezeen. "I have no doubt that they wouldn't get the same facilities on the Holloway campus."

Jeremy Till, head of London art and design school Central Saint Martins, which recently moved from Holborn to Kings Cross, also warned that moving The Cass would have "serious" repercussions.

"The move and slicing up of The Cass would spell the end of it as a vibrant set of internationally renowned courses," Till told Dezeen.

Designers Barber and Osgerby recently told Dezeen that spiralling property prices, arts education funding cuts and a government "scared by creativity", are jeopardising London's position as a leading creative city.

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The Cass' current Central House building contains recently built workshops and studios

London Design Festival founder John Sorrell has also warned that the UK's design industry is under threat due to the government's failure to invest in creative education.

The current Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design was created when the universities of North London and London Guildhall merged in 2002 to form London Met, combining north London's architectural school with the Guildhall's Cass Faculty of Art, Media and Design. The school's departments were physically united in the 2013 move to the current building.

Its graduates have included founding members of architecture collective Assemble, which was recently nominated for the Turner Prize.

London Met said it would invest £125 million in the expansion of the Holloway campus. It said that the decision to centralise its faculties was driven by a survey that found that 65 per cent of current students would prefer a single campus.

"We are aware of the petitions being raised against the move and against closures of courses," it said in a statement. "We always want our students voices to be heard and are in the process of arranging meetings with the students involved to discuss their concerns directly."

"The Cass is globally respected for running projects around the world, and we believe that reputation will endure wherever the faculty is based," it added.